4 Easy DIY House Improvements that Won't Break the Bank

dog in fenced backyard
July 10, 2020

Wondering what to do to spruce up your place without breaking the bank? These are 4 DIY home improvements I've done personally that will give you bang for your buck - without breaking your back.

When you hear the words “home improvement”, the first thing you probably think of are the costs. A lot of costs.

Since buying a home back in May, my wife and I have worked on day-long or weekend long projects which have cost less than I first imagined. However, like most projects, we’ve encountered surprises along the way.

Despite this or because of this, I’ve learned a ton. I’ve learned that doing things yourself is fantastic, as long as you plan it out beforehand and have the right tools. Another thing I learned is that I definitely never want to dig another post hole in my life.

I’ve also learned that some home improvements cost less than you think and will go a long way in adding value to your house.

1) Beautify the Backyard

One of the first things we did once we moved into our place was wonder what in the world we would do with our backyard.

It was like the jungle scene from Jumanji. Vines and bushes and thorns seemed to encroach from all sides. There were rocks galore and our only desire was to have a nice patch of grass for our dog to enjoy.

The Jungle Before.

Before we could even beautify our backyard, we had to rip out what was there. We spent a whole weekend clearing out vines and bushes. These bushes were the lovely kind that like to pop out at different places for a 20 foot radius. How nice. :)

The overgrown rose bushes were especially fun with their nice, big thorns. An axe was our best friend that day.

After ripping out the jungle, we decided to put sod in the back so we could have a nice lawn. We rented a rototiller for a morning and went to work.

We then spent $400 on 1,000 sq ft of sod. It was definitely the best thing that happened to that backyard.

It was convenient for us to lay sod because it was such a small backyard. If the yard was any bigger then laying seed would have been a better option (and cheaper too!)

The Jungle after with our happy doggo :) 

Consider grass seed, adding mulch, pea gravel, or even a firepit to your backyard. A firepit area can be built in just a day if you have a few extra helping hands.

2) Build a Fence

Once we beautified the backyard, we took on our most expensive project yet - the fence. Part of having a dog means having a fence to keep the dog in during the day.

Our yard only had a chicken wire fence which definitely isn’t enough to keep our 80 pound mutt in. Granted, he usually sleeps all day so would have been fine with just the chicken wire.

We decided a privacy fence would be best, especially since we plan on renting out this property to dog owners in the future (sorry cat owners).

The privacy fence ended up being a 3 day project. The longest and most difficult part of it was actually digging the 2 foot deep holes.

Digging holes seems pretty simple. Until giant water pipes and tree roots decide to ruin your day.

Previous to digging the holes, I had the city come out and mark any gas or utility pipes. They said our backyard was clear of all of that. I was having a good time digging my second hole until I hit a solid metal pipe about a foot down.

Turns out a water irrigation pipe of our neighbors ran right along our property’s edge. So, we moved the fence a foot and a half inwards. We resumed digging the holes, and then ran into tree roots about the size of my leg. Perfect. A Sawzall saved the day though.

Once the holes were dug, the horizontal supports and pickets went up relatively easy. It was stained a few weeks later once the wood dried out. The picture above is with the fence pre-stained.

The total cost of the fence came out to $1200. This cost was worth every penny in my opinion and it makes the property much more attractive to dog owners.

3) Paint Everything - The Pink Bathroom Tiles Included!

We have painted literally every wall in the house. It is something that is so easy, although time consuming, but makes such a HUGE difference.

The walls were a wide variety of colors - green, purple, maroon. There was one decent blue color but we covered it up with a warmer color and made the place feel more like our own.

Not only does painting get rid of awful colors, but it can substantially increase the value of your home. Did you know that painting the interior can increase home value by much more than you paid for the paint?

Warm colors will do best when choosing the right paint color scheme to use.

Not only did we paint the walls, but we had a great pink tile in the bathroom which my wife absolutely hated. And I don’t blame her. It was quite… different as you can see.

Bathroom with Pink Tile

We took white epoxy paint that’s made for refinishing bathtubs and tile and went to town on that bathroom. I was surprised at how great it looked afterwards. The tile paint needs to be touched up every couple years but it’s so much better to wake up and not have to see that pink tile.

Bathroom after we painted the tile :)

Final cost to paint everything and make the place feel warm and cozy? $500. We chose Valspar Aspire paint from Ace and are very happy with the result. While it may be tempting to go with the cheapest paint, if you can, try to go with paint that guarantees one coat coverage. Not only will it same you some time and money, but the finished product looks and feels great!

4) Install Flower Boxes

The most recent DIY home improvement we did on the cheap was to add flower boxes to our front yard.

The front yard was also quite the jungle and we found many treasures during the brush removal process. We found more rocks that I ever imagined would have fit in such a small space.

The flower boxes were relatively easy to build. We needed treated 4x4’s for the vertical supports. We then made the exterior wall of the boxes out of treated 2x4’s.

I’m a big believer in Home Depot which is where we have bought 95% of the materials to fix up our house and improve it.

The flower boxes are approximately 3’x12’ and cost a total of only $150. And it adds quite a bit to the curb appeal if I might add.

If you are looking for DIY house improvements that don’t break the bank, then consider trying one of these projects I mentioned.

Not only will they add value to your house, but they will make your place feel more like home.

What about you? What DIY projects have you done on your place to fix it up?